Buy Nothing Groups are now in every neighbourhood in Vancouver.
And many areas beyond the city as well.
They’ve been growing both in membership and number of groups since March 2020, many doubling in size in six months from the start of the pandemic.
Cayla introduced Mary to Buy Nothing Project in early 2019, after meeting at the womens’ gathering.
Both are now administrators on their neighbourhood Buy Nothing Groups – Marpole and Kitsilano North East respectively.
These are facebook groups where people give stuff away and ask for what they need. And, importantly, express their gratitude. The third kind of post is what keeps the community building part in the forefront.
In 2019, CityTV visited a Buy Nothing “free store” that Mary coordinated. Watch the video here:
Our annual zero waste event will be Wednesday December 16. I’ll be posting some blog posts prior to that to get you in the mood. Your contributions are very welcome on the zoom call or in advance. I can post here. This post is by Vivian Davidson who will be one of the speakers on December 16th
by Vivian Davidson
The holidays are often a season filled with gift-giving and consumerism and our wallets, the environment and emotional wellbeing take a huge hit. This does not need to be the case. I and my family have long espoused the spirit of the holidays over the consumerist ethos that has overtaken what is supposed be festive occasions. As such I have developed very sustainable practices when thinking about what and how I give. Below are some examples that I hope will help you in your ethical gift giving journey 😊 after all there is no reason not to spread joy and love whilst conserving our environment, sanity and creating beautiful memories and experiences.
For starters, whatever physical gifts I give I prioritize local and sustainable. I research companies in Vancouver that are committed to sustainable materials and processes so I forgo the ubiquitous big-name online shopping companies that mostly do not provide these choices.
You may have heard of the initiative “Plastic-Free July.” It is a global movement and a challenge to reduce plastic waste. Local zero-waste shops like Nada Grocery have been at the forefront of promoting this important work in our community. While it is nice to have a special month to “zero” in on the consumption of single-use plastics, we also know the work is year-long.
This year poses a particularly difficult challenge because the safety measures used to protect us from COVID often come with more packaging, less opportunity to use our many-use items.
Vancouver Unitarian’s Zero Waste team members reflect on how they are navigating their commitment to being plastic-free and zero waste in a pandemic. We asked: Has the pandemic shifted your habits with plastic? Why or Why not? and What are some examples of steps you’re taking to be both safe AND plastic-free?
“My habits with plastic have changed slightly because I strive to live a sustainable and plastic-free life as possible I have endeavored to abstain from activities that require me to introduce more plastic into my life. At the grocery stores, I refuse to use plastic bags and even if I have to carry out my items and later put them in my own bag I won’t use plastic bags. The one thing I had to do which hurt more than I thought was to use disposable cups when having coffee outside as we cannot use our own mugs.
In addition, I have not ordered take out except once and I asked them to have as little packaging as possible. Yes, it came in a container but I asked for compostable.
In order to be safe and plastic-free I wash my hands and avoid touching my face rather than using disposable gloves which research has proven is a false positive anyway. I made my own mask and use that.”
What are UCV kids doing with Social and Environmental Justice?
Justice work is integral to Unitarian Universalism; for many of us justice work—whether social or environmental—is spiritual work. When we take a good look at living the seven principles, we find that they call us to act for justice, equity, compassion, and democracy and we are called to take interdependence seriously.
We bring these values of justice, equity, compassion, and democracy into our children and youth programs through stories, games, activities, discussion, and outdoor explorations. Our upper elementary students worked with the CUC’s Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guide last year. We are looking for more opportunities to build relationship and learn about our indigenous neighbors. The Harry and UU Summer Theatre camp group chose to focus on “Waste” as the Horcrux (societal ill) they would fight, and we brought the Zero Waste Challenge to class in October under the theme of “Abundance.” We are continuing the challenge this month with “Courage.”
The UCV Youth Group is currently exploring a focus for an Environmental Justice action project. Zero Waste and fighting the pipeline expansion are top of their list. Stay tuned for more information from our Youth!
Do you have a small household appliance that does’t work? Do you feel bad at the idea of throwing it in the garbage? Do you wonder if it would be possible to repair it?
“Repair Matters” (facebook) http://repairmatters.ca/ Vancouver (B.C.) is an all volunteer service started by four women university students from Simon Fraser and Emily Carr – back around 2015. They have taken a few breaks over time, and have started up again just recently. Repair Matters invites people to bring their domestic appliances, and related items, (gadget, toys, tools, sport ‘stuff,’ etc.) to their repair events. They find that with their shared knowledge, and experiences, they are able to repair many of the items brought to them.
“Repair Matters” is looking forward to setting up a repair event at Vancouver Unitarian Church. We will let you know the time and date for this event when we get our schedules coordinated.
Are you a ‘fix it’ type person who’d enjoy volunteering your time, talent and skills to help members and friends at UCV?
The Environment Team is exploring the idea of creating space for having small household appliances repaired or adjusted. If you have such items hiding out somewhere that you’d like to have repaired, or if you would like to fix those items (or teach people how to fix them) we’d love to hear from you!
I recently watched this TED Talk by Matt Cutts suggesting we give up on New Year’s resolutions, and just try something new for 30 days. (It’s only three minutes!)
He says 30 days is the right amount of time to create a new habit by adding or subtracting something from your life. Matt is a software engineer (with big credentials). If you’re curious about his 30-day goals, here’s his blog: https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/type/30-days/ and here’s his credentials: https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/about-me/
So for anyone who’s already broken or never made a New Year’s resolution this year, the Environment Committee’s Zero Waste Team would like to encourage you to give this 30-day commitment a try in the effort to reduce your use of single-use plastic. We all intend to bring our own bags and not use Styrofoam, take out cups or… well, you can fill in the blanks with your confession.
The Zero Waste Team got together after the Environment Committee sponsored a Sunday forum presented by Zero Waste Canada going over their program for how organizations can be certified as zero-waste. While people found the forum interesting, what followed a call for more suggestions on what individuals can do. Zero Waste Canada presented a pyramid with Rethink at the top and Recycle only half way down. As many of us know, we can experience a moment of feeling virtuous (well deserved) when we sort our garbage and make sure all the recyclables go into the right bin, but they—and I—think rethinking how we live our lives is the first order of business.
We plan to offer a one-day Zero Waste workshop at the church in the spring. In the meantime, we’re going to offer some suggestions for small steps you—and we—can take to change some of our habits.
We invite you to join us in creating SMART goals for Waste Reduction.
SMART goals are
S – Specific: Goal explains clearly exactly what you want to accomplish M – Measurable: Has measurable results A – Achievable: Clarity about how the goal could be accomplished R – Relevant – Related to waste reduction T – Time-bound: 30 days
Here are some suggestions gleaned from various posts about reducing single-use plastic. We hope you’ll join us in deciding to add or subtract something for the next 30 days—and maybe start a new habit.
At restaurants ask for your beverage by adding “No straw” or bring your own stainless steel straw.
Carry your own container to restaurants so you can avoid their Styrofoam or plastic ones.
Take mesh bags for putting produce in when you shop.
Find and buy toilet paper that is not wrapped in plastic. (And please let me know where you found it.)
Use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.
Is there something you’re prepared to do differently for the next 30 days? Pick one of the above (or create your own) and let us know: email@example.com.
10 Single-Use Plastic Items You Can Quit Right Now
The Vancouver Unitarian Zero-Waste Team is: Mary Bennett, Mairy Beam, Eleanore Dunn, Randall MacKinnon, Sandy Riecken, Cathy Sevcik, Teresa Morton. You could join us! Our plan is to focus on actions more than meetings and fun as much as work.